Energy & Environment

Adam Schiff hiring full-time team to investigate Trump’s Russia connections
House Intelligence Committee chairman hiring more investigators to revive House Russia probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is adding more investigative manpower to his committee staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is sinking panel resources into a robust investigative staff to revive the probe into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia with roughly seven committee staffers directing their energy full-time.

Schiff and the Democrats have made offers to six new staffers, CBS News reported, including a corruption expert and a former prosecutor. The committee is still looking to hire six more people as Schiff restructures the subcommittee and plans targeted lines of inquiry into the president and his 2016 campaign staff’s connections with Russian officials.

Woman suing Rep. Tony Cárdenas for sexual abuse makes her name public, inspired by Christine Blasey Ford
Trial will begin in August in Angela Villela Chavez’s suit against Cárdenas

A woman accusing Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., of sexual abuse has made her name public for the first time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The woman suing Rep. Tony Cárdenas, alleging that the California Democrat sexually abused her when she was a teenager, has made her name public for the first time. And she was inspired to do so by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, according to a new report.

A trial will begin in August in 28-year-old Angela Villela Chavez’s civil suit against Cárdenas in Los Angeles County.

Trump’s snow day Twitter rant spills into Monday with attacks on Dems
President also mocks report of FBI probe into whether he worked for Russia

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One from the White House on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After a snowy Sunday of Twitter threats and jabs, President Donald Trump on Monday morning fired off more posts blaming Democrats for the now-record partial government shutdown and mocking a report the FBI opened an investigation over concerns he was working for Russia.

During a mid-December Oval Office meeting that devolved into a bickering match, the president told Democratic leaders he would “take the mantle” of any partial shutdown. With nine Cabinet agencies and other offices now shuttered for more than three weeks, Trump on Monday wrote that “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

Government’s data policies enter the 21st century — finally
Recently passed reforms hold hope of more evidence-informed policies

Before he gave up his speaker gavel and retired from the House, Paul D. Ryan had a final hurrah in December when Congress passed a package of comprehensive data reforms that he and Washington Sen. Patty Murray had introduced a year earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It might be 2019, but our government’s data infrastructure is largely stuck in the 20th century.

That’s a big problem in the era of the information age. Failing to use data to improve government’s programs and services means taxpayers may not be getting what they pay for. It also means our public discourse suffers when figuring out what problems should be addressed and the best ways to do so.

Congress ignored its election duties for years. That ends now
With HR 1, House Dems have laid out a blueprint for voting reform

As House Democrats push voter registration reforms, there may be heartburn at the state level. But the conversation they’re starting is a crucial one, Weil writes. Above, Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries approaches a “For the People” podium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — House Democrats have waited eight years to regain the speakership, and now that they hold the gavel, they will clearly seek to move on pent-up priorities. For their first act out of the gate, they rolled several into one.

The “For the People Act” — or H.R. 1 — runs just over 500 pages and includes proposals the Democrats have pursued during their time in the minority, such as ethics reforms, campaign finance changes, and a well-publicized section requiring presidential candidates to hand over their tax returns.

Henry Cuellar says liberals targeting him don’t understand his district
Texas congressman says his polling shows his Democratic constituents are moderates

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is among the more conservative Democrats in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said Friday that the liberal Democrats recruiting primary challengers against him are in for a rude awakening. 

The Washington Post first reported that Justice Democrats, a group targeting sitting Democratic lawmakers, launched a fund to support a primary challenge against Cuellar, one of the more conservative House Democrats.

Shutdown ties up Trump’s fossil fuel agenda
94 percent of EPA’s workers are furloughed

The EPA had planned by March to complete a rule easing tailpipe emission standards. Now that timeline could be in doubt. Above, Alex Gromov puts a probe into the tailpipe of a car as he performs a smog check in San Rafael, California, in 2017. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

The partial government shutdown has snagged progress on President Donald Trump’s ambitious agenda to boost fossil fuel use and extraction, including the administration’s repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan, which has a March deadline.

Over the last two years, the Trump administration set in motion an aggressive deregulatory agenda, easing emissions regulations and making it easier for energy companies to extract fossil fuels from public lands. Some of the regulatory rollbacks that have been in the works are due to be finalized in the next two months but are now facing delays — such as cessation of public hearings — because of the shutdown, now in its third week.

Email dump could slow EPA confirmation fight
Shutdown throws a wrench in court-ordered document release related to potential conflicts of interest

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works panel last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has been formally nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a contentious confirmation fight just as a court order threatens the release of over 20,000 emails related to his potential conflicts of interest.

The White House on Wednesday formally sent Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate, triggering the start of the process. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, was confirmed to be the agency’s deputy in April 2018 and became acting administrator in July after the departure of scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt, who resigned from the top post amid mounting ethics issues.

Trump cuts off federal funds to California to fight ‘Forrest fires’
‘Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely,’ president tweets

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with California state leaders on Wednesday, tweeting he has cut off FEMA funds to the state over his view it mismanages the money in fighting forest fires. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he has ordered FEMA to withhold funds from California’s state government until officials there “get their act together” fighting forest fires. But he tweeted he thinks that is “unlikely.”

The president long has criticized California state officials, sometimes with dubious claims, over wildfires there and their steps to prevent and nix them. But stopping the flow of federal funds is an escalation of the feud, and one that might raise the ire of lawmakers — even the sizable House GOP delegation from the Golden State.

EU reports on cryptoasset regulation could have global reverberations
Watchdogs urge EU-wide rules

A sign in a Berlin pub signals the owner’s acceptance of bitcoin. Reports on cryptoasset regulation in the European Union could have global reverberations. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images file photo)

 

ANALYSIS — Two leading financial regulatory authorities are preparing to release pivotal reports on cryptoasset regulation throughout the European Union with recommendations that set the stage to create a separate “bespoke” regime for cryptoassets that are not currently subject to regulation in the bloc.

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flies high, eyes are rolling on the ground
We all know who she is. But is that good for her agenda?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bringing star power back to the Democratic Party, but in Congress, as in life, fame can be both a blessing and a curse, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — The knives are out for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman phenom who unseated Rep. Joe Crowley in the summer primary and went on to make history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Why did I even mention that part? We all know who the congresswoman is, and that is both her biggest asset and her greatest danger as she begins what could be a lifelong career of impact or a two-year experiment in modern, celebrity legislating.

Former lawmakers, staff quickly set up on K Street
But many are finding a competitive job market downtown

Former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has returned to his previous job at lobbying and law firm Covington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street kicked into hyper-spin this week, just days into the new Congress, as recently departed lawmakers and aides announced new gigs.

In an unusually fast repeat move, former Sen. Jon Kyl, the Arizona Republican who rejoined the Senate last year to temporarily fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, returned to his previous job at the lobbying and law firm Covington. He reported earning $1.9 million from the firm during part of 2017 and 2018, according to a recently filed 2018 financial disclosure form, and he will be subject to a two-year ban on lobbying Congress, as are all senators in the first two years after leaving office.

Former Reps. Mia Love, Luis Gutiérrez join CNN as commentators
Meanwhile, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lamar Smith head to K Street

Former Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, is now a CNN political commentator. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Reps. Mia Love and Luis Gutiérrez have wasted no time finding new gigs after leaving Congress last week.

Love, a Utah Republican and the only black female Republican in the last Congress, and Gutiérrez, a longtime Chicago-based Democrat, have joined CNN as political commentators.

Grijalva’s moment arrives as he takes Natural Resources gavel
New chairman brings progressive focus to often contentious committee

The new House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., has served on the panel since he first came to Congress in 2003. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As climate change and immigration lead priorities for the new House Democratic majority, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva may just be the man for the moment.

The question however is: Did Grijalva find this moment or did the moment finally find him?